Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}

Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}

Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}

I grew up with a very politically aware grandmother. I remember vividly watching the George W. Bush and Al Gore debates as a kid. I remember my grandmother and sister’s matching political candidate sweatshirts. I remember going with my grandmother to the voting booth and watching her press the “big button” to submit her vote. 

She encouraged us to research what candidates were talking about and to form our own opinions. Most importantly, though, she encouraged us to have our voices heard. Now, as an adult, I am very grateful she instilled the importance of voting and being engaged in our community. As a family with three littles, we have made it a priority for our kids to know that our community is important, and we should have an active role within it. 


This past weekend, we loaded up the kids and brought them to our polling place. My daughter, who is an extremely inquisitive four-year old, wanted to know what voting meant.

My very elementary explanation was this:

Voting is when we get to choose who we want our leaders to be. A group of people let us know that they want to lead, and we get to say who we think the best person is for the job. Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}Then, the person who has the most people choose them gets to be the new leader. We get to work with them on making Lafayette a place we love to live!

Now, it is probably not the best explanation, but it got the point across. It was truly a special moment stepping into the voting booth and having our kids witness us being an active participant and exercising our right to vote.

Community Events

Last weekend I let my daughter play hooky from school so I could have a day to spend with her one-on-one. With the gorgeous weather, we decided to spend as much time outside as possible. On Friday, we went to Bach Lunch located Downtown. While we enjoyed the free music and the splash pad, I got to explain that the reason we get to attend events like this is because families come together and say that they want events that parents and kiddos can go to together. Downtown makes it happen because they love to bring us all together. 

We also attended Festivals Acadiens et Creoles (another free event). While we were exploring the park and the stages with music, it was fun to discuss why they were speaking French and why we celebrate with Cajun and Creole music. A history lesson always goes down more easily with dancing. 

Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}Voting Is A Big Deal {And Other Lessons I Teach My Kids About Civic Engagement}


As much as I am able, I try to volunteer my time or talents with community organizations. My kids know I am a big advocate of Downtown. When Parish Proud day took place Downtown and had HUNDREDS of volunteers working on projects to beautify the public spaces, I took a volunteer shift. When my kids asked where I was going that morning, I told them I was going to help cleanup. Fast forward a few weeks later, when my daughter and I went walking Downtown, and she says “Mom, you did such a good job cleaning up. It’s beautiful.” That right there is enough to know that my volunteering not only made a difference to my community, but to my kids as well. 

It is never too early to teach your kids to be proud of their community. Be a family that is active in their neighborhoods, schools, nonprofits, churches, and other opportunities for service.

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.


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